Superannuation is becoming for many a major asset. If a death benefit is attached it may be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a funny creature. It is your asset, yet you have no control over it. Unless you have reached a certain age you can’t have it. If you die before receiving it you can’t control who it goes to. The trustees of the superannuation fund will decide unless you have appropriate actions in place.

Organising who will benefit from your superannuation can be complex. If you desire your superannuation to be paid direct by the trustee of the superannuation fund you can nominate a particular person/s to receive the funds. There are some exceptions, for example, some public service superannuation funds determine who is to receive the benefit and there is nothing which can be done to over-ride the superannuation Trust Deed. Non-Binding Death Benefit Nomination: You can complete this type of nomination and leave it with the trustee of the superannuation fund. However the trustee will only regard it as an expression of a wish. The Trustee has a limited discretion to make enquiry and to change your wish and pay the superannuation to others. Binding Death Benefit Nomination: This type of nomination does what it says. Provided it complies with the legislation and is renewed at least every three years, it binds the Trustees to pay your superannuation to the person/s you want to receive it. This is a far better option.

There is another way to deal with you superannuation and take it out of the hands of the trustee and have it dealt with via your will. The simplest way to do that is to nominate your estate or your legal personal representative as the beneficiary of your superannuation via a binding death benefit nomination. Your superannuation is then distributed in accordance with your directions in a valid will. You should get legal advice before taking this action since there may be taxation consequences. These include whether or not you have retired and whether the persons you wish to receive are dependents as defined in the superannuation legislation and the taxation legislation.

You should get expert legal advice as part of your future estate planning and you must not leave it until it is too late.